Jim Whittaker is a renowned mountaineer, speaker and author best known as the first American to summit Mt. Everest, with Sherpa Nawang Gombu, in 1963. He has led numerous high-profile expeditions, including the first ascent of Mt. Kennedy (with Sen. Robert Kennedy) in the Canadian Yukon in 1965, the first American ascent of K2 in 1978 and the Mt. Everest International Peace Climb in 1990. He is an accomplished sailor, who — with his wife and two sons — once made a four-year, 20,000-mile journey from their home in Washington state to Australia and back aboard a 54-foot ketch. Whittaker was a founding employee of REI, and wrote the best-selling book A Life on the Edge: Memoirs of Everest and Beyond.